My Attitude on Platitudes

A small potted plant sits next to a sign with white letters on a red background that reads, "YOU ARE WHO YOU DECIDE TO BECOME.

When I started my business, I was a subject-matter expert in finance, but I wasn’t a subject-matter expert in running a business. I joined a lot of groups, and I met a lot of people, and I got a lot of unsolicited advice — like an insane amount. And most of it came in the form of platitudes that seemed ever-so wise and meaningful at the time.

I was recently cleaning out my desk, and I found a whole list of them that I kept. Some are just ridiculous, and I can’t figure out why I held onto them. But I thought I’d pull a few out to share (and rip apart) with you.

Failure is an event, not a characteristic. 

I’ll start with a good one. The most successful people I’ve worked with are the ones who are scrappy hustlers that make $#!& happen. Sometimes the universe does things to them, and sometimes they make bad decisions and bad things happen, but they have the ability to move on and not harp on it. 

Let’s say you spend a lot of money deploying software that sucks and you can’t get your money back. You can choose to wallow in it (characteristic), or you can say, “OK, what do we need to do to move forward?”, now it’s an event.

Fear is the GPS for where your soul wants you to go.

Wowza. I must have been in some kind of mood to have kept that one.

Progress, not perfection. / Intensity is a good story; consistency makes progress. 

These two hold up. Everything we do in finance is an iterative process. We never get someplace, and I encourage people — a lot — not to get so tied down to one individual result. We need, instead, to look for patterns. We want to see improvements. We want to see things are going in the right direction. Are our margins getting better or at least staying flat? Is our retention, whether it’s employee or client, improving over time? Are profits increasing? There are a lot of different ways to measure your business. It doesn’t have to be just one thing you’re after. 

I win or I learn, but I never lose.

Nope. Sometimes you lose. And it’s perfectly OK.

The braver I am, the luckier I get. / Fortune favors the brave.

Yes, but….  these can sometimes cause you to act irresponsibly. Thinking you want to double your revenue next year? Depending on where you’re starting from, that could be a big swing to take, even reckless. What’s behind it? Does it require you to spend more than you have (or should)  to make it happen? Then it may not be the right thing to do. So let’s recast this one: Fortune favors the cautiously brave.

It’s happening for you, not to you. 


OK, I showed you mine. Now you show me yours. 

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